Myelin tetraspan family proteins but no non-tetraspan family proteins are present in the ascidian (Ciona intestinalis) genome. Academic Article uri icon


  • Several of the proteins used to form and maintain myelin sheaths in the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are shared among different vertebrate classes. These proteins include one-to-several alternatively spliced myelin basic protein (MBP) isoforms in all sheaths, proteolipid protein (PLP) and DM20 (except in amphibians) in tetrapod CNS sheaths, and one or two protein zero (P0) isoforms in fish CNS and in all vertebrate PNS sheaths. Several other proteins, including 2', 3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNP), myelin and lymphocyte protein (MAL), plasmolipin, and peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22; prominent in PNS myelin), are localized to myelin and myelin-associated membranes, though class distributions are less well studied. Databases with known and identified sequences of these proteins from cartilaginous and teleost fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals were prepared and used to search for potential homologs in the basal vertebrate, Ciona intestinalis. Homologs of lipophilin proteins, MAL/plasmolipin, and PMP22 were identified in the Ciona genome. In contrast, no MBP, P0, or CNP homologs were found. These studies provide a framework for understanding how myelin proteins were recruited during evolution and how structural adaptations enabled them to play key roles in myelination.

publication date

  • August 2005